Israel’s health ministry released updated COVID-19 statistics for November 16, noting 861 new cases of the virus, 8,052 active cases, and one new death. Israel’s total death toll from the virus is 2,736 with the cumulative number of infections reaching 324,755. Approximately 530 people remain in hospitals across the country including 124 individuals on respirators.
The first double-blind placebo trials of a new COVID-19 vaccine began in Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv. Israel Institute for Biological Research announced that BriLife will include 80 people in Phase I, with another 1,000 candidates starting in December for Phase II, and 30,000 participants for Phase III in April 2021. Israel has an agreement with Pfzier to buy a COVID-19 vaccine, while the Prime Minister’s office continues to negotiate with Moderna and Russian vaccine makers.
Palestinian media outlets announced that the Palestinian Authority would resume security cooperation with Israel. The PA had stopped the formal liaison process in May after Jerusalem announced plans to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
Saeb Erekat, the lead PLO negotiator for talks with Israel, died in a Jerusalem hospital at the age of 65.
IDF fighter jets, helicopters, and tanks conducted strikes against Hamas targets in Gaza following the launch of two rockets from the enclave on November 15.
Israel’s cabinet approved a new town in Sdot Negev Regional Council near Kibbutz Sa’ad.
An Israeli court sentenced an Eshkol resident to seven years in prison and a fine of $60,000 after finding him guilty of smuggling for Hamas. Prosecutors charged Michael Peretz with the transfer of illegal goods to terrorist groups, money laundering, and other crimes for concealing shipments of concrete, piping, and electronic equipment into Gaza.
Israeli troops opened fire on a Palestinian man after he attempted to stab them outside Hebron on November 8.
IDF soldiers arrested an individual who crossed from Lebanon into Israel illegally near the village of Ghajar on November 14. In a separate incident, Israeli troops arrested two individuals on suspicion of smuggling drugs into Lebanon on November 17.
Seven peacekeepers with the UN’s Multinational Force and Observers died in a helicopter crash on November 12 in southern Sinai near Tiran Island. The Pentagon indicated that five Americans, one French, and one Czech citizen lost their lives in what it characterized as a Black Hawk helicopter accident. One U.S. service member survived the crash and was evacuated for medical treatment.
The Egyptian military opened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza for the first time since September.
According to media reports, Israeli agents shot dead Al-Qaeda’s second-highest ranking member in Tehran on November 14. The U.S. supported the targeted killing of Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah, aka Abu Muhammad al-Masri, who had planned attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the 1990s and the 2002 bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in Kenya. Reports indicate that Abdullah continued to plan attacks against Israeli and American interests. The government of Israel has not commented on the reports.